AddThis SmartLayers

Union condemns lack of action over newspaper closures

The National Union of Journalists has criticised the competition authorities for taking no action over the closure of three weekly newspaper titles last week.

As previously reported on HoldtheFrontPage, the Northants Herald & Post, Luton on Sunday and Milton Keynes-based OneMK published their final editions last week.

All three titles were purchased by Trinity Mirror as part of its £220m takeover of Local World in October 2015.

The NUJ says the closure decision has created a “monopoly” in Northants for Johnston Press, which owns the Northampton Chronicle and Echo and Northants Telegraph, and is calling on the Competition and Markets Authority to intervene.

Northants HP

Happier days…the Northants Herald and Post celebrates its 40th birthday last year

The CMA carried out an investigation into the Local World deal at the time it went through, but decided to take no further action.

However the NUJ is calling for that decision to be reviewed in the light of the recent closures.

In a letter to the CMA, it says: “Closing these titles will diminish plurality and competition and damage the interests of readers and the wider public.

“The announcement about shutting the titles was made as a fait accompli. There has been no public consultation with stakeholders, businesses, readers or staff.

“The titles have not been put up for sale. No other potentially interested party has had the opportunity to come forward or bid. There has been no opportunity to review the impact of the decision on editorial and business plurality, competition, public interest and the democratic deficit.

“The closure creates a monopoly for Johnston Press in Northants. This will be the only outlet for local newspaper advertising in print and online.”

NUJ national organiser Laura Davison added: “The closure of these titles is a travesty. Trinity Mirror, and other publishers, will continue to act with impunity unless they are properly investigated by the organisations which are supposed to hold them to account.

“The Competition and Markets Authority should stop dragging its feet while titles continue to be allowed to shut down, dangerously diminishing plurality in our local media. It is just not good enough.”

A Trinity Mirror spokesperson said: “We took the difficult decision to close three free weekly titles in Luton, Milton Keynes and Northampton as part of a review of our portfolio, and after a full consultation with the staff affected.

“The print and advertising markets face ongoing challenges which all publishers must respond to. Nobody cares more about the long term health and sustainability of the regional media industry than us.

“In the Bedfordshire region we are not exiting the market. We are increasing the focus on Bedfordshire on Sunday, increasing its distribution into Luton, and broadening its online coverage.”

HTFP has also approached the CMA for comment.


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • December 7, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Onemk formally MK News was a flagship title under Iliffe. Northampton Herald and post was a previous purchase from Trinity but was also considered an important title.

    Before LW came along these where 104-136 page titles on a weekly basis with large Leaflet revenues against them, much of it made up by having real local sellers on the ground and an flexible distribution team near by. This was all within the last 5 years so not a distant memory from the golden era.
    As previously said LW/TM have saved millions centralising operations, closing offices, sourcing out distribution and walker employing, sourcing external presses and contracting out print. These titles should make money when iliffe was making large sums from them previously in light of this.

    But alas if you’ve seen the poor quality of these papers and what they became under them you may understand why they are no more.

    Call me a cynic but looking at some of the titles closed and sold in the last year or so does have a whiff of Directors on a golf course making some deals in certain areas

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(10)
  • December 8, 2016 at 8:25 am

    What the nuj don’t seem to realise is that newspapers are up against stiff competition from the likes of google, facebook, right move etc etc. They have not exited the areas as they stated they are bringing out new publications. It is simply a business decision. Areas are lucky to have one newspaper as many areas do not have any. Why the cma need to be involved is simply ludicrous, particularly when newspapers are up against it already. It was only a short while back that the cma were involved with the kent messenger group, look what happened… many of the papers were scrapped, read it here

    What we do need for regional papers to survive are tax breaks and new incentives to claw back some market share from the likes of google etc, not more moaning from the nuj.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(9)
  • December 8, 2016 at 8:46 am

    And then you have editors moaning about unfair competition from a council newsletter… you couldn’t make this stuff up! The editor of the hackney citizen stated that the newsletter was taking revenue away from their title. So they want to have all of the cake and eat it. I say fair play to the council for producing such a good newsletter and keeping the cost down to the taxpayer at the same time. Double standards…

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(6)
  • December 8, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Perhaps more editors ( or so-called content editors)could produce papers that have only local news and sport written in good English by local reporters who know their area, with in-focus pictures. Might be a start, and stop moaning about council newsletters who just happen to serve their particular audience better.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(10)
  • December 8, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    The NUJ is so out of touch, they may as well be based on the ISS

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(1)
  • December 8, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    The NUJ clearly haven’t got the slightest clue about why the CMA exists.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(1)